Interview with CIVIL VILLAINS: James King – Lead vocalist and guitar; Mark Hudson – Bass; Toby Warren – Drums and additional vocals. and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
CV: I’d say first and foremost we are three friends, we’ve known each other since school, and this band is a way for us to celebrate the music we all love. Making music together makes a lot of sense to us, when writing we are usually aligned in where we want a song to go and there’s a great energy when we’re bouncing ideas off each other.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
CV: We started playing together in London around 2015, we’d been friends since school but not made music together as a three until our mid twenties. We took a little while to work out exactly what our sound was, but once we found our groove we’ve all just really loved creating music together.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
CV: For all three of us, music was a constant presence in our childhood. James (guitar and vocals) was raised on Elton John, Mark (bass) was mainlining the 80s, and Toby (drums) was being taken to gigs from the age of 8 – admittedly Bryan Adams, but you’ve got to start somewhere! We all just love music, so it’s natural for us to want to make it. More specifically, our songwriting is driven by a desire to make stuff that’s got a hint of the unexpected about it; and now we’ve been making weird music for a while, we’ve realised that a song without any time signature changes can count as unexpected for us!
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
CV: Right now, it’s all about getting our upcoming album Motion Sick out there. It’s been a long time in the making, and it’s something we are incredibly proud of, really encapsulating our sound and spirit of this band.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
CV: Back in 2016 we won a competition to play a festival in Quebec, Canada, called Envol Et Macadam. Off this back of this we booked a series of small shows in the American Northeast, and just over a year later while James was living in Vancouver we played a run of shows in the Pacific Northwest. These were an absolute dream come true for us, absolute once in a lifetime, pinch yourself stuff.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
CV: It’s much harder than writing the music, that’s for sure! We’re always trying to think of new ways to get some engaging and hopefully bring something that people like. Luckily between us we have some video and photo editing skills, which helps set some of our posts apart – we hope!
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
CV: We’ve always been very DIY about booking shows, from putting on our own charity and Christmas events to booking small runs of shows in Canada and the US. We’re big advocates of the humble spreadsheet, and it never hurts to reach out to the bands you love to make an honest pitch to play with them – we’ve been lucky enough that some of them have said yes. Community is another factor, I’m sure many a band can name a number of great gig opportunities that have come through just by moving in the same circles of some really friendly and generous bands and promoters.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
CV: Torn. I (James) for one, have never listened to a wider, more varied and rewarding mix of music in my life thanks to streaming platforms like Spotify, but there are plenty of issues when it comes to musicians actually being fairly compensated for their time, effort and art.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
JK: I think I’m always striving to produce music organically, songs that feel like they’ve coalesced out of thin air, or that you’ve pulled from the ground, still covered in dirt – so to that end the natural fluidity of “Who Are You” by Tom Waits amazes me and the restrained, economical feel of “Sometimes” by Pearl Jam is a bit of songwriting benchmark for me. “Pagan Poetry” by Bjork and “2 O’Clock” By Kaki King are another two tracks that feel like they’re pulled from the ether.
MH:Probably, “Go With The Flow” By Queens Of The Stone Age as it is a perfectly sculpted rock song with some great riffs, in fact anything off of Songs For The Deaf. What an album.
TW: The second half of Abbey Road. That crazy journey you go on through those tracks is amazing, with some brilliantly mad lyrics thrown in for good measure.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
CV: I don’t suppose we’re really operating within it in the proper sense, so it’s hard to point fingers at one particular machination or another. At the end of the day it’s all just people, most of whom are trying to get music they think is worth hearing out there and heard.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
CV: We’ve got a batch of new tracks in the works but are mainly putting our efforts behind trying to get ‘Motion Sick’ to reach as many people as possible.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
CV: Come see us live for starters and say hello, we’ll talk your ear off about music!
You can pre-order our new album over at:
https://thundersnuffrecords.limitedrun.com/ or https://civilvillains.bandcamp.com/album/motion-sick
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
CV: We’ve got a bunch of singles and our 2019 EP ‘Snake Oil’ available on all good streaming services (We have a limited supply of ‘Snake Oil’ CDs left). ‘Mortuary Blue’, the first single from our new album, is out now, and the album releases May 26th.
You can buy all our tracks from itunes but we advise supporting us (and other small independent bands) through: https://civilvillains.bandcamp.com/album/motion-sick
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